Sydney Opera House, 01/06/17
Making his way back home for just three shows at the Sydney Opera House as part of Vivid Live, from the moment Nick Murphy stepped foot on stage, it was apparent that we were in for a pretty special night. Unless you have been living under a rock for the past nine months, you would be well aware that Nick Murphy used to go by the moniker Chet Faker. The set list was a blend of older Chet Faker songs combined with newer Nick Murphy tunes, including a handful from his recently released Missing Link EP. Listening to the recorded EP, it stands quite far away from his sound as Chet Faker. Deep, brooding and heavy electronic sounds are very prominent, but on stage this sound is amplified about 20 notches, with every beat reverberating through the floor and into your body.
Running on stage accompanied by a huge flash of lights and some stunning, dark instrumentation, he quickly jumped straight into ‘Gold’ and ‘1998’, capturing everyone’s full attention. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone quite so mesmerising with such a powerful stage presence. It was almost impossible to take your eyes off him, and it wasn’t that he was doing anything particularly attention-grabbing. A few dance moves here and there a couple runs around the stage, but there was just something about watching Murphy, teamed with the incredible light show that surrounded him that is almost hypnotic. Unsurprisingly there was a few people who thought it would be funny to yell out “bring back Chet Faker” (it’s not funny, it’s old and everyone is ignoring you), which Murphy completely dismissed. Imagine how many times the poor dude would have heard that yelled out in the middle of a show.
After a quick chat with the audience he invited Marcus Marr on stage with him, where they smashed out ‘The Trouble With Us’ and ‘Birthday Card’. ‘Cigarettes and Loneliness’ and ‘Talk is Cheap’ were definite highlights of the set, oozing such powerful and commanding melodies. As the set went on, the variety and eclectic range of sounds just kept building, cementing what a creative talent Murphy is. There were not two songs that sounded remotely similar, with each sound that was produced holding its own against the other instruments and vocals. Marr jumped back on stage for ‘Killing Jar’ and ‘Your Time’, this time joining the band with an acoustic guitar, changing the bass heavy sound that had been so outstanding for the first half of the show, to more of a country-meets-electro vibe.
As the clock was ticking and we were getting to the final stages of the show (which felt like it went way too fast and I’m sure I can speak for the majority when I say I could have happily sat through another hour of Murphy performing) he dropped another new song ‘Fear Less’, along with the stunning, unreleased single ‘Driving Too Fast’ which was accompanied by Murphy playing a gliding melody on the piano.
To end the night he finished with his first single as Nick Murphy, ‘Stop Me-Stop You’, which is something I can’t justify by putting it into words. Telling everyone to stand up, the first beat of this sent such an amazing energy around the room, which was emulated by Murphy who seemed to bump things up even a few more notches. Closing out the set with just his voice and the piano, his vocals just soared over the crowd and echoed off the walls, making for one of the most striking ends to a show I’ve been lucky enough to witness.